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Mulan (2020) Geregisseerd door Niki Caro






Het is natuurlijk onvermijdelijk om deze film contant met de Disney animatiefilm uit 1998 te willen vergelijken. Beiden draaien immers om hetzelfde pesonage, zijn van dezelfde studio en hele scenes zijn zelfs shot-voor-shot hetzelfde. Toch is "Mulan" ook anders. Niet alleen neemt het een andere en meer serieuze toon aan, zijn bepaalde personages verwijderd of juist toevoegd, ook zijn de bekende Disney-meezingers in zijn geheel verwijderd en neemt het verhaal zelfs af en toe een geheel andere wending. Goed nieuws dus voor de mensen die ietwat klaar zijn met de remakes van Disney-klassiekers die in zijn geheel niets toevoegen en ook vrijwel nieuws lijken te proberen. Tenminste, dat zou je wellicht op het eerste oog denken...

Met een film over een personage waarvan het niet geheel duidelijk is of ze daadwerkelijk heeft bestaan en waar verschillende versies over rondzwerven door de eeuwen heen, kan de film het zich veroorloven om zelf een andere wending aan het verhaal en personages te geven. Met de recent opnieuw onstane populariteit van sterke en stoere vrouwelijke hoofdpersonages in films, lijkt Mulan ook het perfect onderwerp om mee uit te pakken. Niet alleen is het verhaal heroisch en fascinerend, het personage heeft ook alles in zich om een memorabele te zijn. Een 'Disney-prinses 2.0', die zich niet laat redden door de 'prins' maar op haar beurt zelf de 'prins' redt en in de tussentijd ook haar mannetje staat. Haast letterlijk, want het verhaal over Mulan draait om een jonge vrouw uit het vroegere China, die zich als man verkleed om de plaats van haar kwetsbare vader in het legere in te nemen, wanneer de slechterik Khan en zijn leger het land binnendringt om de Chinese keizer af te zetten.

In essentie een helden-verhaal, maar ook één die uiteindelijk gaat over het durven zijn van jezelf.

Haren los en vechten maar

En ondanks alle goede bedoelingen, is het daar waar het voornameijk misgaat voor de film. Letterlijk vanaf het moment dat Mulan haar haren losgooid en haar vrouw zijn accepteert en uitdraagt, in een wereld die destijds voornamelijk een mannenwereld was en waar de rol van de vrouw vooral nog dienend en ondergeschrikt was, gaat het echt definitief mis met het verhaal, het personage en de film in zijn geheel.

Ik ben uiteraard niet blind voor de symboliek en de gedachten. Met het personage Mulan proberen de film-makers een sterk rolmodel neer te zetten, waar zowel jonge meiden als vrouwen vol trots naar op kunnen kijken. Niet alleen de Aziatische gemeenschap, maar vrouwen en jonge meiden in het algemeen. Het zou daarbij echter helpen als het personage Mulan een meer menselijke en dus ook realistische was. Ze toont niet alleen weinig emoties door de gehele film heen, haar vechtkunsten doen daarnaast ook nog eens vermoeden dat ze onaantastbaar is. Geen moment heb je het idee dat deze Mulan in serieus gevaar kan komen, wanneer je haar tegen muren op ziet rennen, als Neo uit The Matrix pijlen ziet ontwijken en als Hawkeye uit de Marvel films met een goed gemikt schot zelf slechterikken ziet neerschieten, die kilometers verderop lijken te staan. Ze lijkt dan ook meer een superheld dan een sterk vrouwelijk personage waar meiden en vrouwen over de hele wereld zich gemakelijk mee zouden kunnen identificeren.

Een personage zoals bijvoorbeeld een Superman is ook haast ononverwinneklijk, letterlijk niet van deze wereld en bloeden doet hij al helemaal niet aan, maar hij heeft wel zo zijn zwakheden. Naast Kryptonite krijgt hij regemaltig te maken met emoties en onzekerheden die hem kwetsbaar, maar bovenal ook 'menselijk' en realistich maken. Een reden en slechts een simpel voorbeeld waarom het gemakkelijker is om jezelf nog atlijd met een superheld van een andere planeet te identiferen en emoties voor te voelen, dan voor een 'historisch' figuur in deze film, wiens verhaal voorheen miljoenen mensen heeft bereikt en geinspireerd, door de eeuwen heen.

Doordat de film met het hoofdpersonage de plank misslaat, staat het al vanaf het begin met 1-0 achter. Dit hebben de film-makers uiteraard aan zichzelf te wijten en helaas zijn er weinig andere dingen die de film nog kunnen redden van het stempel 'teleurstellend'.

Ondanks dat de film meer dan een halfuur langer is dan de animatiefilm uit 1998, weet de film niet ook meer verhaal te vertellen. Sterker nog, de film voelt meer gehaast en minder plezierig aan qua tempo. Het neemt niet goed de tijd om de verschillende personage en de onderlinge relaties krachtig en interesssant genoeg neer te zetten, waardoor de emoties en het drama niet goed werkt. Een misschien onwaarschijnlijk lijkende reden hiervoor is het ontbreken van liedjes in deze film. Waar het de animatiefilm nog lukte om het verhaal  en ontwikkelingen in snelvaart tempo met behulp van liedjes te vertellen, moet deze film het puur en alleen van het verhaal hebben. Hierin wordt echter te weinig ruimte geboden voor ontwikkelingen. Zo zien we niet waarom Mulan als een buitenbeentje en haast mislukking in haar cultuur wordt beschouwd en zien we al helemaal niet hoe de groep van onwaarschijnlijke helden worden klaargestoomd voor oorlog en uiteindelijk meer dan capabele soldaten worden.

Er wordt in het verhaal sowieso weinig ruimte geboden voor andere personages, wat misschien alsnog prima kan werken wanneer je personages sterke en duidelijke karikaturen zijn, maar helaas zijn ze in deze film niet meer dan voornamelijk vlak. Mulan's vrienden, haar ouders, haar commandant, de slechterik en haar uiteindelijke liefde. Vraag me om ze met meer dan drie woorden te beschrijven en het zou me werkelijk waar niet lukken.

Doordat de film een serieuze toon aanneemt weet de film helaas tevens nooit echt vermakelijk te worden. Wat meer humor en een lichtere toon zou af en toe op zijn plaats zijn geweest. Ik kan dan ook maar moeilijk inzien hoe met name kinderen deze film als plezierig en memorabel zouden kunnen gaan ervaren. Voor de volwassen blijft de film daarnaast te simplistisch qua verhaal, waardoor ook dezen hoogstwaarschijnlijk niet gegrepen zullen gaan worden.

Het is een op momenten verrassend geweldadige film, zonder dat het echter bloederig wordt. Want nee, bloed bestaat blijkbaar niet in deze wereld. De vecht en oorlogs scenes zijn duidelijk gebasseerd op Aziatische en met name de Chinese cinema, waarbij naast bloed, ook zwaartekracht niet lijkt te bestaan. Dit levert de film echter gelijk dan ook de beste en meest vermakelijke momenten op, bijgestaan door het goede camera-werk en verdere aankleding. Zaken als de sets en kostuums laten gelukkig nog altijd zien dat er veel zorg en ook geld was besteed aan het maken van de film. Het is echter niet iets wat de film beter in balans brengt of dingen uiteindelijk alsnog de moeite van het kijken waard maken.

5/10


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What I expect to see in "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker"




Well, since most of my predictions for "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi" (read them over here) of course were wrong, I thought I have some fun and write another post, about the things we can expect to see in "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker".

Again, all we can do at this point is speculate about the plot and how things are going to get wrappend up by J.J. Abrams, for this new trilogy AND the Skywalker saga as a whole. After reading a whole bunch of stuff on the internet and watching video's about it, I have a pretty clear vision of how things are going to play out, for Rey, Kylo and some other familiar faces from the past movies, that we haven't seen in any of the previous two other movies of the new trilogy.

So sit back, take a glass of blue milk and enjoy my extremely speculative post, that you of course also should take with a big grain of salt...Unless I'm right on the money this time around! But the chances of that are approximately 3,720 to 1.

No Ian McDiarmid in the flesh

Taking a bit of a gamble here, but I don't expect to see Ian McDiarmid to return in the flesh, to reprise his role of emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. The role he last played in "Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi", in which he took a bit of a tumble into a well, after getting thrown in by his apprentice and former ultimate bad guy, Darth Vader.

The fact that none of McDiarmid's involved got leaked or even rumored, prior to to the first trailer release and McDiarmid's appearance at SWCC 2019, is the biggest give away for me.
If McDiarmid is to reprise his role of Palpatine/Sidious, it's fair to assume that his role is supposed to be a pretty big one, considering that he's supposed to be the main villain of the movie.

Also the fact that his likeness wasn't used for the latest movie poster should be a bit of a give away to you. Seriously, if he's in the movie and all dressed up as good ol' Sidious again, then why couldn't they simply just use a snapshot from the movie, or even a make-up test, instead of a toy figure, which they ended up using for the poster.

Yet, there also is absolutely no denying that the characer of Palpatine/Sidious is in the movie and will play undoubtedly a big part in the movie its conclusion and the Skywalker saga in general.
It is likely that we are going to see some form of Sidious again, maybe in a younger body this time around. The character Matt Smith plays could be a younger version of the Sidious character. A clone perhaps, or more likely a person who's body gets used by Sidious essence. In that same light, it is likely that Snoke turns out to be another person, 'possesed' by Sidious' spirit. Snoke and Sidious definitely shared some characteristic and it would explain who the Emperor's them played during Snoke's big scenes in "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi". It would make composer John Williams smarter than any of use, for figuring this out early!

So is McDiarmid not involved at all with this movie? Well, maybe still to some extent. Maybe he'll lend his voice to the character, like he has done before during some episodes of "Star Wars Rebels". Or perhaps he'll show up in some flashbacks, old holograms and during one of the final scenes. So yeah, McDiarmid not showing up in the flesh might not be entirely the case. I just don't expect him to play a big part as the character.    

The Skywalker who will rise is Rey

Here is a suprise for you; Rey will turn out to be a Skywalker after all! Her heritage has been much speculated about, ever since the release of "Star Wars: Episode: The Force Awakens", in 2015. Her turning out to be a Skywalker, as a sort of lost daughter to Luke or Leia or Han, which would make her Kylo's sister, always seemed like the least interesting or suprising way to go with the strong female character.
She will turn out to be a Skywalker  that's my prediction, anyway), but she won't be directely related to either Luke or Leia. Well, at least not in a natural way.

The entire Star Wars saga always have been about Anakin Skywalker. Not just the prequel trilogy, but the original trilogy as well, in which Anakin was the one who eventually brought balance to the force. Luke was a catalyst for his story, that got wrapped up with Anakin's death, in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (spoiler!!1).

Why is this important to mention? Well, because other than a few shots of his old helmet and a handful of mentions by Kylo Ren and Snoke, we haven't seen anything of Darth Vader or Anakin in the new trilogy. With the return of Palpatine it would only make sense for Anakin to return as well, since according to the prophecy, he's the one who brings balance to the force.

It would be pretty weird though for Anakin, played by Hayden Christensen again, to wander into this movie again. Not just because his character is supposed to dead, but also because it would be far too random and confusing for people who aren't all that familiar with Star Wars. You have to remember, of course this movie is going to appeal to Star Wars fans all over the world, but you also always have to keep in mind, as a film-maker and studio, that people who aren't that familiar with Star Wars are going to watch this movie and need to be appealed to, in order for it to become a massive financial success. Yes, that's how it works, boys and girls. It can't all be fan service. While I do expect Anakin to play some sort of role in the movie.  

A way for Anakin to return, is through Rey. What if -here it comes- Rey turns out to be a clone of Anakin? Sounds corny, but it's a way to ultimately fullfill the prophecy and it allows Rey to become the Skywalker to rise, as well as to provide an answer to her background.

She doesn't remember who she is or comes from because she has no past. It also explains the force vision of Rey in the cave, in "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Last Jedi", in which she was confronted by multiple versions of herself. When she tried to see her parents, all she got was an image of herself, because she has no natural parents.

But who created the clone? That would be none other than Sidious, in an attempt to bring back the greatest Sith of all time and create an ultimate version of him, to serve by his side. It also explains why Rey has some formidable force strenghts, as well as some dark side tendencies, which even Luke feared. He even commented on it how he had seen that raw strenght only once before and how it didn't scare him enough back then. Luke could of course have been talking about young Ben Solo, but even in that case, Ben of course is Anakin's grandson. The same genes and characteristics flow through his body, as through Rey's, if she turns out to be a clone of Anakin.

Sidious most likely attempted to create multiple clones of Anakin through the decades, while trying to perfect him. Rey's just one of them, who somehow got freed, maybe by rebels, during a raid on a cloning facility. Maybe she was brought to a family, which she considered to be her own throughout the years, but she was let go once the family relealized who she truly was. Rather than killing her, which they didn't had the heart for, the hid her on a remote planet (Jakku in this case), where she could live her life, without ever getting noticed.

It could also explain the 'dark Rey', who was shown in some of the early footage. Rather then being another force vision, it could simply be another clone. Used by Sidious to train and do his bidding. It would be pretty interesting to watch Rey battle a version of herself.

There will be a big sacrifice

Rather then Rey or Anakin sacrificing herself/himself again to bring balance to the force, it's is more likely that Rey is going to survive and Anakin is going to remain to be the force ghost that he is. It's more likely that Kylo Ren is going to meet his ultimate demise, by the end of the movie, in which he turns out to be an hero after all. There obviously is a lot of conflict- and still good in Kylo Ren. It however seems unlikely that his character is going to get redeemed and lives on to be a good guy. After all, this is the person who killed fan favorite Han Solo. There are some things that just can't be forgiven...One of the ways his character could have been redeemed was if Leia forgave him. However since Carrie Fisher passed away and it is unlikely that there is any previously shot footage of Kylo and Leia, that can be used within this context, it is unlikely that this is going to happen. Kylo has to die. And what better way for him to do so than making his death a meaningful one, in which he redeems himself. Perhaps with the help of Anakin's guidance, which could be another way for the character of Anakin to fullfill the prophecy once and for all.

It also would be 'nice' to see if the character of Leia somehow was involved with the epic conclusion of the movie. Perhaps also as a character who sacrificies herself, as there of course is no way her character is going to return in any other installments, after Carrie Fisher's death. It would be a fitting, powerful and emotional ending for a character that so many love and have grown up with. Let her be with Han, Ben and Luke again, after performing one last ultimate deed to show her strenght and persistence to fight for what's good, while performing the ultimate sacrifice.

Oh, and speaking of epic conclusion; how awesome would it be to have all force ghost appear toward the end of the movie and have them battle it out with Sidious, alongside. I'm not just talking about Luke and Anakin here, but also Obi-Wan (played by Ewan McGregor again) Yoda, Qui-Gon (please Liam. Don't be grumpy and just say 'yes') and Mace Windu (the de-aging effects worked perfect on Samual L. Jackson in "Captain Marvel")! I don't know, just thought I would throw it in here as well.   


So there it is! No need to see the movie anymore, since you already know everything of importance that will happen in it. Nah, not really of course. It would be interesting to see how many of my 'predications' and expectations will eventually end up in the movie. Of course not everything, but perhaps a few elements of it.
It doesn't matter though, since the movie no doubt is going to provide us with plenty of suprises and moments that are going to both thrill the casual viewers as well as the biggest Star Wars lovers. 

Trailer: Frozen II (2019)






Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf are going far in the forest to learn the truth about an ancient mystery of their kingdom. From: IMDb.com



Directed by: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell , Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and others
Current release date: November 22, 2019

Trailer: Doctor Sleep (2019)






Years following the events of "The Shining", a now-adult Dan Torrence meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. From: IMDb.com



Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Cliff Curtis and others
Current release date: November 8, 2019

Recovery (2019) Directed by John Liang





Well, good news is that this movie is not a complete and total train wreck but it unfortunately doesn't exactly live up to its potential either.

And honestly, this movie really had some potential. It was original, with some pretty interesting and clearly had some good ideas in it. It's unfortunate that the movie doesn't really know how to use all of its interesting and original ideas, and turn this into a memorable and effective movie.

You can't really put this movie under just one category, which in my opinion isn't ever necessarily a bad thing as well. Most of time it means that the movie is being an original one, that really truly is trying to do its very own thing. This movie also definitely is doing its own thing, but I don't know if that in this case is a positive thing as well. It rather makes the movie a bit of a messy one at times, that also isn't being the easiest or most pleasant one to watch and follow, especially the second halve of the movie.

The idea of using a veterans trauma and troubles and set it against the backdrop of a horror movie sounds like a pretty good and interesting premise, but the problem with it is that it doesn't deliver on its psychological horror- and thriller elements well enough. The buildup is there, most of the times, but the payoff is lacking. The movie actually does a fairly good job setting up its mystery and tension, but once it starts to become apparent that the movie doesn't know how to deliver on any of it, it turns into a bit of a snoozefest.

And that's all a shame of course. Not only because the right kind of buildup and premise all seems to be there, but also because the movie obviously had some pretty talented people involved with it. As far as these cheap and independent type of movies go, this one has a pretty good and professional look and feel to it. And even though the dialog feels somewhat lacking, the acting still is pretty good. It's still remains a huge missed opportunity that despite of the decent buildup and acting, that the movie never fully succeeds at it at turning its characters into likable and interesting enough ones as well. It's one of the reasons why the movie fails to make much of an impression and doesn't become much of an engaging one to watch. It basically is hard to care for any of the characters, or to what ever happens to them.

But I just can't really hate on this movie. It's too original and features too many good ideas in it for that. That fact that it doesn't live up to its potential doesn't mean that the movie is a terrible one to watch as well. Just extremely forgettable, as well as still somewhat disappointing in the end.

5/10

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The Humanity Bureau (2017) Directed by Rob W. King





Nicolas Cage his "Blade Runner 2049" (and yes, it is just as bad and ridicules as that sounds). At least, that is what they were going for. Well, I guess they were, since I am really not too sure what they were going for exactly. As a whole, it is quite messy as a movie and it lacks a clear direction and engaging enough main plot line. Not that the movie is confusing, it is just bad and incredibly poorly constructed.

Watching this movie is a real task, which is not only due to the fact that it lacks a clear direction or solid enough main story, but also because it really isn't much fun to watch, which is especially disappointing for a movie that is trying to be a science-fiction movie, set in a dystopian future.

A big problem for this movie is that it lacks a good enough treat in it. There is never a sense of danger or despair, even though the movie supposedly is set in a world where humanity is seriously threatened by global warming. I also really don't think that this movie adds much good to the cause, in regards to the current global warming situation, even though the intentions for it were clearly there.

There is not a big enough treat from its 'world', which obviously is really due to the fact how poorly it is set up. The movie absolutely never feels or looks like it is set in the remote future and it also makes absolutely no attempt to ever impress you with any of its visuals or to explain its 'world' to you. The movie mostly involves Nicolas Cage sitting in- and driving around in his car, with some terrible green screen effects behind him. Something James Bond did far better and more convincing (well OK, maybe not), during the '60's and '70's.

This also shows you how terrible uneventful this movie actually is. There are a few action sequences, but it is all quite laughable to be honest. Terribly formulaic, as well as incredibly poorly directed. Its low budget really can't be an excuse in this case, since the movie clearly could have done more to either excite or entertain its viewers.

Nicolas Cage is a funny guy. He has had his fair share of great roles and movies, as well as a boatload of terrible roles, in absolutely laughable movies, while always overacting, but never being a bad actor per se as well. He honestly also isn't too bad in this movie, though his character is incredibly flat and uninteresting. He is far from the worst actor in this movie though. All other actors in this movie unfortunately really perform below par and it is always dangerous for a movie to feature a kid actor in a pretty big and significant role. Jakob Davies really isn't up to the task and he delivers just about all of his dialog in a far from convincing way.

The villain, always an important aspect for a movie such as this, is also a terribly disappointing one. Again, a far too formulaic, without a clear enough motivation and purpose in this movie. Maybe I simply zoned out while watching it, but I can assure you that that would have been all due to the movie, that absolutely failed to ever grab me with either its story and characters or any of its events.

It is a poorly handled mess, that offers nothing good really.

3/10

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Alien Convergence (2017) Directed by Rob Pallatina





The title sounds like "Alien: Covenant", the cover looks like "Alien: Covenant". That can all only mean one thing; The Asylum is at it again!

It is funny though. Even though this is a clear attempt at trying to cash in on the 'succes' of "Alien: Covenant", the movie itself is ripping off a whole bunch of recent science-fiction movies, except for "Alien: Covenant". It is actually more a cheap "Pacific Rim" rip-off, about dragons (I guess) who came from space to destroy the Earth. The movie is just as ridicules and bad as sounds. However, if you are into this silly and bad stuff, there still is a great chance you are going to enjoy it.

I for one definitely am able to enjoy a movie such as this, though there absolutely is no way I would call it a good movie as well. It is bad, but that luckily doesn't take away anything from its amusement. It is the type of movie that becomes entertaining to watch, just because of how bad and ridicules it gets at times.

It is also always funny and amazing how these movies often follow the same templates and all of the characters are much alike. These movies often feature a strong female lead in it, who still are scared by something and vulnerable as well. There also isn't ever much story though and it basically is a movie about survival, from some kind of monstrous thread or natural disaster, while never feeling any of the dread, urgency and despair. It is all incredibly shallow, simplistic and predictable. Nothing comes as a surprise and the movie is basically devoid of any sort of depth and emotions. Really, I don't even remember any of the character's names.

Its straightforwardness and simplicity at the same time remains the one thing that also still makes the movie somewhat fun and entertaining to watch though. It never really slows down for any drama or distracting side-plots. There is plenty of action and pace to this movie, though at the same time the action is hardly anything impressive to look at. The special effects are ridiculously bad and half of the time I don't even know what is going on in the movie. It all feels very random and hard to care about, due to the way how things get told and shot like.

I still yet never hated watching this movie, but that is just me of course. Bad and silly movies often are enjoyable in their own, special, kind of way, but it clearly is something most people are not going to enjoy watching. And I really can't blame most people for that. After all, it is bad...

4/10

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